Does it still take a village to live, work, study and play in Irvine?
Few would dispute that the villages concept fosters community pride and identification, and serves the purpose as a method of marketing individual developments as they’re built. Bragging rights? Sure, there’s some of that too.
But as the city has grown and prospered, it’s become more difficult to differentiate between all but the largest, oldest and most geographically distinct of the named villages.
Most of us know where Woodbridge, University Park, Quail Hill, Shady Canyon and Northwood are, though the borders and boundaries of the certain villages may be more difficult to define. But how many among even the most in-the-know locals could locate Rosegate and Stonegate, Columbus Grove and The Colony, or the tree villages of Cypress, Walnut and the Willows?
We defy anyone but a city staffer, planning commissioner or Irvine Co. veteran to differentiate between the “parks.” College Park, Northpark, Park Lane, Parkcrest, Parkside, Westpark, University Park—did we miss any? Of course we did: the parks in the Great Park Neighborhood: Pavilion Park, Beacon Park, Cadence Park, Parasol Park and the upcoming Novel Park. Does the Great Park count as a village, or does a village have to be an Irvine Company development? Heritage Fields is on the village list, but only lawyers call the Great Park by that name. Check out the Altair website, and the word village is never used.
Certainly residents who bought or rent in each village know. But who among us not a resident of the planning area nine neighborhoods really knows where Woodbury, Stonegate and Woodbury East begin and end?
Ah yes, the planning areas. Should we simplify and use the designations, which at times track the villages? That would be simpler, right? Not so fast. (check out the map:
Can anyone explain how the numbers were assigned? Certainly not in consecutive order: University Park is No. 20 while Woodbridge is No. 15. Which is No. 1, one might ask? Orchard Hills, with Limestone Canyon coming in at No. 3. And as for Planning Area No. 2… hmm. No such thing, as far as the map shows.
Perhaps the planning area numbers were distributed geographically? Doesn’t seem so: UCI is No. 50 and the Great Park is No. 51. Other curiosities: why does Irvine Spectrum have six separate planning areas (No. 13, and Nos. 31-35) but the Great Park only has one?
It is confusing, which is perhaps why the Irvine Police Department created a much simpler system back in 2003 by dividing the city up into three geographic areas.
“After much discussion, research, input from members of the department and the community, and based on their geographic location, the names selected for each area became ‘Portola,’ ‘University’ and ‘Crossroads,’” says the IPD webpage on the topic.
We can imagine there was much discussion! Not sure how they came up with the names, candidly. University is obvious. But is Crossroads named for the El Toro Y, where the 405 and 5 Freeways merge/separate, depending on one’s direction? Or for the Crossroads retail center?
Portola is everything north of the 5 Freeway, but that name is also pretty ubiquitous in the city, region and state. Why not just name the area 5 North?
Perhaps simplifying the whole thing would make Irvine easier to understand for newcomers, as well as those of us who have lived here quite a while.
One way to narrow it down: does the village have a retail center, whether named for the village or not? If it does, it counts. If not, it’s just a neighborhood. That list of centers includes Diamond Jamboree, Park Place, and Heritage Plaza, as well as the Irvine Co. centers. We refer to the areas of the IBC near the District as that center, even though that center is in Tustin.
There are exceptions and complications, of course. The Great Park Neighborhoods retail center is yet to come, though we read recently that a cool pop-up version using shipping containers will be coming. And for some reason there are three centers with Alton in the name. So there may need some renaming to make it all make sense.
No worries, that should be simple to work out. Hmm. Maybe not. We forsee “much discussion, research, input from members of the community” before this crazy idea ever happens.